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Marriage and Economic Incentives: Evidence from a Welfare Experiment

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  • Wei-Yin Hu

Abstract

Can economic incentives be used to affect marriage behavior and slow the growth of single-parent families? This paper provides new evidence on the effects of welfare benefit levels on the marital decisions of poor women. Exogenous variation in welfare benefit incentives arises from a randomized experiment carried out in California that allows me to measure responses beyond simple year-to-year changes in benefit levels. I find that a regime of lower benefits and stronger work incentives encourages married aid recipients to stay married, but has little effect on the probability that single-parent aid recipients marry. The effects on married recipients become larger over time, suggesting that long-run effects may exist.

Suggested Citation

  • Wei-Yin Hu, 2003. "Marriage and Economic Incentives: Evidence from a Welfare Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(4).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:38:y:2003:i:4:p942-963
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    File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/XXXVIII/4/942
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. R. A. Moffitt & R. Reville & A. E. Winkler, "undated". "State AFDC rules regarding the treatment of cohabitors: 1993," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1058-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jean Knab & Irv Garfinkel & Sara McLanahan & Emily Moiduddin & Cynthia Osborne, 2007. "The Effects of Welfare and Child Support Policies on the Timing and Incidence of Marriage Following a Nonmarital Birth," Working Papers 898, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    2. Martin Halla & Mario Lackner & Johann Scharler, 2016. "Does the Welfare State Destroy the Family? Evidence from OECD Member Countries," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(2), pages 292-323, April.
    3. Scott Hankins & Mark Hoekstra, 2011. "Lucky in Life, Unlucky in Love?: The Effect of Random Income Shocks on Marriage and Divorce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(2), pages 403-426.
    4. repec:pri:crcwel:wp07-10-ff is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Kamila Cygan-Rehm & Daniel K├╝hnle & Regina T. Riphahn, 2017. "Love your Leave, Don't Leave your Love! Paid Parental Leave and Children's Living Arrangements," CESifo Working Paper Series 6319, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. repec:pit:wpaper:329 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Nancy R. Burstein, 2007. "Economic influences on marriage and divorce," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 387-429.

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